Rotala indica is great for beginners because of its ability to thrive in varying tank conditions. It easily becomes the showstopper of your aquarium. We have detailed all you need to learn about this attractive Rotala plant. All you have to do is follow these guidelines to have a healthy Rotala in your setup!

Rotala Indica Stats

Origin Southeast Asia, India, Spain, Italy
Care Type Easy
Propagation Vegetative
Minimum Tank Size 10 gallons
pH 6.0 – 7.5
Hardness 6 – 8 KH
Temperature 72 to 82 F,


Rotala indica was first discovered by Bernhard Adalbert Emil Koehne, a German botanist, in 1891. Since then, it has quickly become a firm favorite for aquarists worldwide because of its stunning appearance and ease of care. You will find this plant naturally existing in rice paddies in Southeast Asia and India, where it is known as the Indian toothcup.

From these countries, the Rotala indica was introduced to Spain, Italy, the United States and Congo, where westerners have grown to love and appreciate it. Rotala indica belongs to the large plant family of Lythraceae and goes by several unique names.


Rotala indica is a flowering plant that exudes raw beauty. It has delicate grass-like leaves that are long and pointed. However, in certain specimens, their leaves are round and concave.

In favorable conditions, the tip of this plant’s leaves is green, with the base somewhat pink. As the plant nears its peak, the leaves start to turn yellow. Rotala indica leaves grow in clusters near the plant’s stems, creating a dense clump of vegetation that resembles a bush.

Their stems are tall and fleshy and grow in the direction of the light. These stems are delicate and easily bruised by mishandling by humans or the other tank inhabitants. Under the right conditions, the Rotala indica stem will reach 24 inches.

– Why Do Rotala Indica Change Color?

Rotala indica change colors to suit the environment they are kept in. Thus, as your tank conditions change, you may notice that your plant starts to take on new colors.

Rotala Indica Size & Growth Rate

The average Rotala indica size is 2 inches. In the right conditions, they can sprout rapidly. However, if you want them to look stubbier, you can adjust the tank’s environmental conditions.

Usually, the Rotala indica you get from the pet store and nurseries is only a few inches tall. With proper care and correct tank conditions, they can quickly reach 2 feet. Thanks to their rapid growth, they can quickly overtake your aquarium.

Rotala Indica Care

The quality of care you show your Rotala indica has a bearing on its health, lifespan and appearance. Aquatic plants that are grown in favorable environments thrive and proliferate. They also have fewer chances of coming down with common plant diseases.

Beginners will have a smooth time growing this plant since Rotala indica is easy to care for. However, like all plants, there are specific care guidelines you should follow. Let’s look at the best ways to care for this aquatic plant, shall we?

– Tank Size

The first step is selecting a tank with a suitable holding capacity. We recommend going for a tank that is no smaller than 10 gallons. That way, you are sure that the Rotala indica has enough space to grow in and flourish.

Remember, this plant needs enough room to spread out and create the much-needed aesthetic appeal. So, smaller tanks are a no-go for Red Rotala because they would wind up choking every other thing in the tank.

– Water Parameters

The “Rotala indica red” — how it is called by many aquarists — is an aquatic plant that does well in a wide variety of freshwater conditions. Thanks to their hardy nature, they adapt surprisingly well. For best results, try to mimic the water parameters they enjoy in their tropical habitat.

Keep the water temperature between 72 to 82 F, the pH slightly acidic (around 6.0 to 7.5), and the water hardness between 3 to 8 KH. The fact that they are hardy means you don’t need to focus so much on these plants so you can direct your attention to the more sensitive inhabitants of your tank.

– Water Test

You must check your water parameters regularly to confirm that they are within the recommended range. You can get an accurate test kit from pet stores near you to make the task easier. Remember, startling fluctuations in your tank water conditions can cause untold harm to your Rotala and other tank inhabitants.

– Water Changes

To keep the water pristine and conducive for your plant, you must schedule regular water changes. These water changes help eliminate waste build-up from nitrate, ammonia, and leftover food. We recommend at least a 25 percent water change every two weeks. That way, your tank water remains pristine and free from opportunistic bacteria.

– Lighting and Its Effects

Rotala indica is reputed for being one of the most demanding aquatic plants in terms of light requirements. The intensity of light it enjoys determines the results and color of the plant you get. For example, Rotala indica that grow in tanks with high light intensity have reddish stems. Plants that grow in low light environments, however, have larger leaves and are less compact.

We recommend that you fit your tank with 3 to 5 watts full-spectrum bulbs providing about 5000 to 7000k for every gallon of water your tank holds. That way, your plant will enjoy optimal growth and have vibrant hues.

– Rotala Indica Diet

Like all living things, Rotala indica has its dietary requirement. For best results, keep to them. We have outlined the macro and micronutrients that this aquatic plant needs for optimal growth.

Ensure that your plant gets enough nitrate; we recommend 20 mg per gallon of water. You will also need to balance out their iron and potassium needs. Lest we forget, keep the water phosphate levels around 8 mg per gallon.

Rotala indica also benefits from trace elements that boost its growth and coloration. You can opt for aqua soil powder to allow its roots to grow even faster.

Effect of Light on Rotala Indica

Light controls the color of your plant but, in addition to that, it determines how fast the plant will grow. If you want to keep your aquatic plant smaller, reduce the light intensity. That way, you won’t need to prune the plant constantly.

On the other hand, high light exposure stimulates this plan’s growth. So, the more light your Rotala gets, the bigger and faster it will grow.

The Benefits of Planting Rotala Indica in Your Tank

One of the reasons why aquarists love Rotala indica is that it is not picky as far as water parameters go. Plus, it offers your freshwater tank numerous benefits. Top on the list is its aesthetic value. The plants’ lush leaves and flowers add spark and beauty to your tank. Other benefits of having a Rotala indica in your tank include:

– Hiding Spots

Rotala indica possesses thick, dense leaves that serve as great hiding spots for the inhabitants of your aquarium. The great news is that, thanks to them, you don’t have to worry so much about creating multiple hiding spots for your fish and snails.

– Added Nutrition

The leaves that fall off from your Rotala indica serve as added sources of interest for the scavengers in your tank. Detritus eaters can also scoop up some nutrients from the dead Rotala indica leaves.

– Improved Oxygen Availability

Like any other live plant, Rotala indica converts the carbon dioxide in the air to much-needed oxygen. They do this during their normal life cycle, and the available oxygen is dispersed to the rest of the tank. Thus, your tank inhabitants have sufficient oxygen to thrive.

– Waste Elimination

Rotala indica also helps you get rid of the harmful waste products produced in the tank. These harmful contaminants like nitrate and ammonia pose a real threat to the other members of your freshwater tank.

Overall, Rotala indica enriches your freshwater tank and plays a vital role in keeping the water conditions pristine and favorable.

Aesthetic Value of Rotala Indica

Rotala indica adapts well to any water condition. Since they are so beautiful and easy to raise, they have quickly become the favorite for most aquarists.

Growing Rotala indica emersed makes for an excellent addition to your new aquarium. The plant’s stem proliferates and thrives anywhere, even on the surface of the water. Their ability to stay afloat earned them the name “emersed Rotala indica.”

Its round leaves grow horizontally on its sturdy stem, creating a dense bush that requires regular trimming. In addition, the bright oval leaves on the stem of the Rotala indica provide the perfect ornamental look.

How To Decorate Your Tank with Rotala Indica

Rotala indica is best suited to the tank’s background because of its rapid growth and its ability to grow very tall. Most people like to place their Rotala indica at the corners of the tank. That way, it gives the appearance of two elegant bushes. You can trim these bushes to form round shapes that remind of topiary art.

Alternatively, you can assemble them in clusters at the middle of the tank to give the illumination of an underwater landscape. You can take it further and carpet the foreground with Hemianthus callitrichoides and throw in the Rotala indica. That way, you get a vibrant mix of colors that make your tank the envy of all eyes.

How To Propagate Rotala Indica

Rotala indica can easily break when mishandled by humans or other tank inhabitants. This aquatic plant can be planted individually or in groups. If you intend to grow more than one Rotala indica in your tank, then you will need to space them out. We recommend leaving at least 1 inch between the first Rotala indica and the next. Now, let’s explore how to propagate this plant.

– Design

The first step in propagating Rotala indica is considering of the design you want in your tank. You can opt for planting Rotala indica singly or in clusters.

– Rest Your Plant

Resting your plant gives it time to acclimatize to its new environment before it is planted. Don’t worry if the plant suddenly starts looking dull or dead. After a few days in its new habitat, it will revive and become the beautiful plant you bought.

– Cutting Rotala Indica

The way you cut this plant can make a whole world of difference. We recommend cutting it with enough allowance at the stem for it to regrow. Please leave at least a 1-inch allowance on the new stem and strip off all its leaves.

– Planting the Rotala Indica

Once you have the naked stem, plant it firmly in the tank substrate. We advise that you bury the thick end at least 2 inches deep in the soil for best results. Over time, you will observe the stem sprouting roots that will help anchor it to the substrate.

– Provide Nutrients

Provide your plant with a favorable tank environment and results. You can supplement the nutrients in the soil with fertilizers rich in iron and regular CO2 injections.

Alternative Mode of Propagation: Rotala Seeds

Occasionally, Rotala indica produces tiny seeds that can be used to propagate new plants. Once they start making seeds, you can harvest them and sprinkle them all over your tank.


– Can I Use CO2 Injections for My Rotala Tank?

If you want your Rotala indica to grow more rapidly, opt for CO2 injections and iron-rich fertilizers. However, don’t overdose on CO2: maintain a concentration of 80 to 120 mg per gallon of water.

– Does Rotala Indica Require Specific Lighting?

No. As with water parameters, Rotala indica has flexible lighting requirements. You can regulate the amount of light your Rotala tank should have. However, do provide them with the basic light requirements for performing the daylight cycle.

– Should You Prune Rotala Indica?

Yes, pruning Rotala indica regularly helps it to maintain the desired orderly arrangement. Asides from aesthetics, the pruning process allows the cut plant parts to fall to the ground and develop new stalks needed for growth.


Rotala indica is an elegant aquatic plant with so many desirable characters:

  • It is easy to care for and well suited for beginners.
  • You can control Rotala growth rate by reducing or increasing light intensity.
  • As the tank conditions change, you may notice your plant takes on different colors.

In this article, we have outlined all there is to know about Rotala indica. After reading, you should feel confident enough to bring one home and tackle this new growing challenge!

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